Years ago, when my oldest daughter was small, she spent a lot of time creating with her grandmother, my mother, and my little sister. They drew, painted, sewed, built and decorated a bird feeder with my dad’s help. This often happened when I was working, but I once had the opportunity to witness an interchange between them regarding a painting gone awry.
My daughter was maybe 5 years old, but already something of a perfectionist (ahem, no idea where that comes from), and was very upset with a mistake in the watercolor painting she was working on. My mom sat with her calmly and explained that artists made mistakes all the time, and that skilled artists would find ways to incorporate their mistakes into their finished pieces.
I don’t recall that this soothed her much at the time, but she’s become quite an artist as she matures, and I’ve seen her do this time and again. I haven’t asked her if she remembers those words, but I expect she does.
I definitely did. In recent years, when my littlest was similarly frustrated, I repeated these words to her, and again, they didn’t seem to impact her much in the moment.
Lately, especially in the evenings, she’s been telling me she’s feeling “crafty, ” meaning she’s enjoying working on arts and crafts projects. Tonight she stated this again. With an eye on honoring this but also keeping us to a reasonable bedtime, I suggested she draw something (I attribute this moment of clarity late in the day to dark chocolate, by the way). She settled on making a book that she could work on bit by bit over the next few evenings as I read to her.
So I read, she drew, and suddenly, she interrupted me piping up with, “Mom, I was an artist!” And she proceeded to show me where she had made a mistake, and incorporated it into the drawing.
I think there’s probably a good life lesson here, something about blending our errors with our intentions and finding beauty there. For the moment though, I’m absorbing that just like that, my mother lives on, in this lovely, tangible way through my beautiful children. That her gifts continue even in her absence, that she’s still gracing us in this way, and probably many more than aren’t as evident, but likely equally as powerful.